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Friday, August 30, 2019

WI pick big burly Rahkeem Cornwall ~ India .. leaves out Ravi Ashwin again

20.3 – big burly Cornwall to Kohli, no run, big appeal for lbw and West Indies have reviewed this! It did appeared close – full ball, hitting Kohli pretty low – pitched outside off .. .. .. and Jason Holder went up for review.. results showed that ball had spun so much that it would have 3rd or 4th leg stump ! .. Heavyweight allrounder Rahkeem Cornwall  handed debut  has already held a catch and then dismissed Pujara too .. .  The 26-year-old off-spinning allrounder, who is 1.98 metres tall and weighs in at 140 kilograms, did not play in the first test in Antigua when the West Indies were crushed by 318 runs inside four days. He has been a consistent performer for Leeward Islands and West Indies A and offers sharp turn with the ball and depth to the batting. Cornwall comes in for medium-pacer Miguel Cummins while wicketkeeper-batsman Jahmar Hamilton becomes the first cricketer from the US Virgin Islands to play at senior level for the West Indies. He replaces in place of Shai Hope, who failed a late fitness test.

India have retained the same team which won so convincingly at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium  that means the star bowler with 342 wickets is still not playing.  On a ground, where Indians once had blood bath in 1976 – WI is bowling an offie so early and India is dropping the World best off spinner – Ravichandran Ashwin – what is happening ?   If premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, had played here, he could easily have got his chance to equal  spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan's record of being the fastest to 350 Test wickets in 66 Tests. Ravichandran Ashwin has picked up 342 wickets from 65 matches so far  at an average of 25.43. He has  incredible 26 five-wicket hauls to his name in the longest format.  Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, who is a part of the commentary panel for the broadcaster of the series, was stunned at Virat Kohli's decision to leave Ashwin out in the 1st test. "[The selection] astonished me," Gavaskar said during the commentary. "A man with that kind of record, especially against the West Indies. He doesn't find a place in this playing XI. That is stunning. Astonishing."  .. .. and what will he say now !! Ashwin's last Test appearance came during India's tour to Australia in 2018. After that he continues to be overlooked in the side.  

The scene is at Jamaica.  The Jamaica Govt recently said it is committed to holding referenda to decide on a number of issues of national importance, including replacing Queen Elizabeth 11, as head of state and the island joining the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The CCJ, established in 2003 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court, also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement. While most of the CARICOM countries have signed on to the Court’s original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are signatories to the appellate jurisdiction.

Kingston was founded in July 1692 as a place for survivors of the 1692 earthquake that destroyed Port Royal. Before the earthquake, Kingston's functions were purely agricultural. The earthquake survivors set up a camp on the sea front.  Kingston is the capital and largest city of Jamaica, located on the southeastern coast of the island. It faces a natural harbor protected by the Palisadoes, a long sand spit which connects the town of Port Royal and the Norman Manley International Airport to the rest of the island.  Two parts make up the central area of Kingston: the historic Downtown, and New Kingston. Both are served by Norman Manley International Airport and also by the smaller and primarily domestic Tinson Pen Aerodrome. Jamaica has always had a vibrant civil aviation industry with the first flight reported in the island on 21 Dec 1911,  eight years after the world recorded its first powered flight by the Wright Brothers. Nineteen years later, on 3 December 1930, the first commercial flight, a Consolidated Commodore twin-engine flying boat operated by Pan American Airways (which eventually became Pan American World Airways), landed in Kingston Harbour.

Test no. 2359 between India and West Indies in ICC World Test Championship got off to a start today.  India, thus far, has played 12 Tests here, having won only 2 – in 2006 & 2011.  India played their first Test here way back in Apr 1953 – a heavy scoring match.  Pankaj Roy (85) and Polly Umrigar (117) took India to 312 in 141 overs.  Windies replied strongly with 576 – Clyde Walcott 118 and Frank Worrel 237 took them along – Subhash Gupte and Vinoo Mankad claimed 5 apiece. In the 2nd Vijay Manjrekar & Pankaj Roy scored centuries helping India to 444 -  West Indies were 92/4 when it was a draw.

Today , West Indies handed Test debuts to Rahkeem Cornwall and Jahmar Hamilton as their captain Jason Holder chose to bowl in the second Test in Kingston.  A Jamaican government minister has demanded that the British Museum repatriates objects in its collection taken when the island was a colony. The culture minister, Olivia Grange, wants the museum to return artefacts including a 500-year-old carved wooden figure thought to represent Boiyanel, a rain god; and a carved figure of a bird-man spirit found in a cave in 1792. The demand adds to a growing debate over whether institutions such as the British Museum should hold on to objects culturally significant to their country of origin. Grange made her demands in the Jamaican parliament last week. The Jamaica Gleaner reported her as saying the artefacts were taken during early archeological digs when the island was still a British colony. She said the pieces were made by the Taíno, the indigenous people of the Caribbean encountered by the 15th-century western explorers. “They are not even on display,” Grange said. “They are priceless, they are significant to the story of Jamaica and they belong to the people of Jamaica.”

In 1976, India toured West Indies under Bishan Singh Bedi.    WI won the first test at Bridgetown, by an innings and 97 runs.  The second one at Port of Spain was drawn and the third one on Apr 1976 was historic.  Indians chased 405 in the fourth innings and won by 6 wickets with Sunil Gavaskar and Vishwanath making centuries, ably supported by Mohinder Amarnath, Brijesh Patel and Madanlal.

That was the background of the Fourth Test at Kingston – Test no. 776 on 21 – 25th April 1976.  The score card would read  India 306/6 decl !! ; WI 391 all out.  India 97 all out and West Indies making the 13 runs required without losing a wicket.  Statistics will never reveal the real story.

WW Daniel made his debut in a bloody test, where Indians were intimidated with crowds calling for blood.  Wisden reported that the bounce was uneven and match folded much earlier.  No doubt the WI had class quickies but the strategy was questionable and many batsmen suffered nasty injuries trying to take evasive action.  The short pitched bowling was over done and Holding from round the wickets caused most damage to the bodies of Indians.  The result could not have been dreamt of from the first day.  At stumps on bad light curtailed day one Indians were 178/1; Gavaskar bowled Holding for 66; Anshuman Gaekwad 58* and Mohinder 25* firm at the crease.  Gaekwad’s innings was one of raw courage taking several blows on the body and arms – the gears were not so protective those days.  With the score at 237 Gaekwad was forced to retire bleeding in his ears.  At 273 Brijesh Patel retired hit on the mouth.  At 306 Venkatraghavan got out.  Bedi wished to protect himself and Chandrasekhar from injuries and hence declared at 306/6.  that was the test when one player after other had to be escorted to hospital with bleeding injuries.  Fredericks scored 82 and at one stage WI floundered at 217/6 but recovered to make 391.  Chandra took 5 for 135; Bedi & Venkat two apiece.

In the Second essay, Gavaskar failed to Holding and half of the team was not fit to play.   Mohinder made a gutsy 60.  Only Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Mohinder, Madanlal, Kirmani and Venkat padded up.  Gaekwad was not in a position to play – so also were Gundappa Vishwanath and Brijesh Patel.  Bedi & Chandra did not bat for the second time and with 5 batsmen absent hurt – it was recorded that Indians were all out for 97.

A sad test it was – and though neither the present West Indies nor the Sabina Park stands anywhere near to that 1976 – it is sad in another way for keeping Ravi Ashwin out !!

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.
30th Aug 2019.

தமிழ் மறவன் வண்ணத்துப்பூச்சி : Tamil Yeoman butterfly is TN State symbol

I heard with rapt attention the management talk on how they want the transformation to take place ~ ‘metamorphosis’ !  .. .. … Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's body structure through cell growth and differentiation.

தமிழில் "மறம்" என்றால் "வீரம்" என்று பொருள்.  ஒவ்வொரு நாட்டிற்கும், மாநிலத்திற்கும் தனித்தனி அடையாளங்கள் உள்ளன. மாநில சின்னம், மாநில கொடி, மாநில வாழ்த்துப் பாடல், மாநில விலங்கு, மாநில பறவை, மரம், நடனம் என ஒவ்வொன்றிற்கும், ஒவ்வொன்று அடையாளமாக இருக்கும். அதேபோல் தற்போது மாநிலத்தின் வண்ணத்துப்பூச்சியாக தமிழ் மறவன் என்ற வண்ணத்துப்பூச்சியை தேர்ந்தெடுத்திருக்கிறார்கள்.

Onething that comes readily to mind of metamorphosis – is the change from ugly to most beautiful .. .. ‘butterfly’.  Butterflies are some of the most spectacular and beautiful creatures on our planet. There's nothing quite like seeing the vibrant color of their wings floating in a clear blue sky. It is  curious that Mother Nature chose caterpillars to be the starting point?  The process starts when a fully grown caterpillar forms a vessel using nearby twigs and leaves called a chrysalis. This pupa stage can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the species.  A hardened case forms around pupa as a protective layer from predators and weather, while the transformation begins inside. These winged wonders are beautiful to look at.  The monarch butterfly  migrates long distances and reportedly goes ‘winter getaway’ to the warm mountain forests of Mexico. Today, conservationists and eco-enthusiasts are fixated more on the plight — not the flight — of the butterflies.

Apart from India's national emblem, each of its States and Union Territories have their own state seals and symbols which include state animals, birds, trees, flowers etc.  now the news is that Tamilnadu has chosen ‘Tamil maravan’ as its State butterfly status. Locally known as Tamil Maravan meaning ‘Tamilian Warrior’, the canopy butterfly, usually sized between 60 and 75mm, belongs to the family of brush-footed butterflies or the Nymphalid.   The Nymphalidae are the largest family of butterflies with more than 6,000 species distributed throughout most of the world, belonging to the superfamily Papilionoidea. These are usually medium-sized to large butterflies. They are also called brush-footed butterflies or four-footed butterflies, because they are known to stand on only four legs while the other two are curled up.

‘Thikku theiryatha kattil unnai thedialainthen’  is one of the many songs of the great Tamil Poet Subrahmanya Barathiyar. ‘Thikku Theriyatha kattil’ (in a forest lost in directions) was also the name of a hit movie released in 1972 starring Muthuraman and Lakshmi … a song ‘poopoova paranthu pogum pattupoochi akka’ – a child asking the butterfuly as to who gave it such a beautiful shirt ! – was a grand hit of yesteryears.

Cirrochroa thais, also known as the Tamil yeoman, is a species of nymphalid butterfly found in forested areas of tropical Sri Lanka and India. It is now  the state butterfly of Tamilnadu.  This is the latest addition to Tamil Nadu’s existing symbols from the natural world – palmyra as the state tree, gloriosa lily as the state flower, emerald dove as the state bird, jackfruit as the state fruit and Nilgiri tahr as the state animal.

Tamil Nadu became the fifth State to declare a State butterfly and Tamil Yeoman bagged the distinction. “The medium-sized butterfly may not be considered very beautiful, but has many special attributes because of which it was chosen,” says a conservationist.  “One reason is the name. There are about five butterflies endemic to the Western Ghat that bear the prefix ‘Tamil’ in their names. But this particular species scored high as it is found in abundance across most parts of the State. Secondly, the word ‘yeoman’ is translated in Tamil as ‘maravan’, meaning warrior, which again gave the species an edge over the others,” “Another speciality of Tamil Yeoman is that the species, although endemic to the Western Ghats, can also be sighted in small numbers in the Eastern Ghats and in open country. Except for coastal areas, there are chances of sighting it in all other landscapes,” says Mohan. In 2014, the group of butterfly enthusiasts found the species even in Pachamalai in Tiruchi district, Kolli Hills in Namakkal, Yercaud in Salem and Sirumalai in Dindigul.

Tamil Nadu is the only State to choose a member of the Nymphalidae family, members of which are not considered attractive and colourful. Maharashtra (Blue Mormon), Kerala (Malabar Banded Peacock), Uttarakhand (Common Peacock) and Karnataka (Southern Birdwing), have chosen from Swallow Tails, which are usually big and beautiful with bold patterns.

Interesting .. welcome to State symbol ~ Tamil Yeoman aka Tamil maravan butterfly.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Aug 2019.
Pic credit : GEO Srilanka from Twitter.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

100 years of War ~ bitter rivals ! .. .. and Modiji in G7 summit

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji attended the G7 Summit in France.  Although India is not a member of the G7 group, PM Modi  was  a special guest, personally invited by French President Emmanuel Macron. The countries that are part of the G7 include the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States.  The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated  that the invitation was a "reflection of the personal chemistry" between the two leaders and also "recognition of India as a major economic power".  PM  Shri Narendra Modi held a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as also with  United States President Donald Trump.

These and many more are accomplishments falling into place for the Indian Prime Minister in his effort to build a wall of support for India. After a triumphant visit to Bahrain, where he received the rather impressively titled 'King Hamad Order of the Renaissance', he flew to Biarritz, the playground of the rich and famous as a "special partner" at the G7 summit, to meet and greet world leaders.

In  stark contrast !  at about the same time, several hundred miles away, Pakistan's prime minister was making a somewhat incoherent address to the nation on Kashmir. Even his best friends would not call that his brightest moment, as that hate  speech was peppered yet again, with allusions to fascists, Nazis and the like, and a promise to stand by Kashmir as its special ambassador.  Neighbouring countries  not in peace is not uncommon ~ best example being France & United Kingdom.

The Carnatic Wars were a series of military conflicts in the middle of the 18th century in India. The conflicts involved numerous nominally independent rulers and their vassals, struggles for succession and territory, and included a diplomatic and military struggle between the French East India Company and the British East India Company. As a result of these military conflicts, British East India Company established its dominance among the European trading companies within India. The French company was pushed to a corner and was confined primarily to Pondichéry.  This  eventually led  to the establishment of the British Raj. 

Nearer home occurred the  Battle of Wandiwash [Vandavasi near Kanchi]  was a decisive battle in India during the Seven Years' War. The Count de Lally's army, burdened by a lack of naval support and funds, attempted to regain the fort at Vandavasi,  was attacked by Sir Eyre Coote's forces and decisively defeated. The French general  surrendered on 22 Jan 1760. Some search on history this date,  - 29.08. - revealed some interesting details.

The House of Plantagenet was a royal house which originated from the lands of Anjou in France.  The family held the English throne from 1154, with the accession of Henry II, until 1485, when Richard III died in battle.  The Hundred Years' War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the French House of Valois, over the right to rule the Kingdom of France. Each side drew many allies into the war. It was one of the most notable conflicts of the Middle Ages, in which five generations of kings from two rival dynasties fought for the throne of the largest kingdom in Western Europe.

Over the centuries, English holdings in France had varied in size, at some points dwarfing even the French royal domain.  In 1316, a principle was established denying women succession to the French throne.   In 1328, Charles IV of France died without sons or brothers. His closest male relative was his nephew Edward III of England, whose mother, Isabella of France, was sister of the deceased king. Isabella claimed the throne of France for her son, but the French rejected it, maintaining that Isabella could not transmit a right she did not possess. The throne passed instead to Philip, Count of Valois, a patrilineal cousin of Charles IV, who would become Philip VI of France, the first king of the House of Valois. However, disagreements between Philip and Edward induced the former to confiscate the latter's lands in France, and in turn prompted Edward III to reassert his claim to the French throne.

Several overwhelming English victories in the war—especially at Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt—raised the prospects of an ultimate English triumph, and convinced the English to continue pouring money and manpower into the war over many decades. However, the greater resources of the French monarchy prevented the English kings from ever completing the conquest of France. The Treaty of Picquigny was a peace treaty negotiated on 29 August 1475 between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France. It followed from an invasion of France by Edward IV of England in alliance with Burgundy and Brittany. It left Louis XI of France free to deal with the threat posed by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy.  Arising out of this treaty,  the  two kings agreed to a seven-year truce and free trade between the two countries.  Louis XI was to pay Edward IV 75,000 crowns upfront, essentially a bribe to return to England and not take up arms to pursue his claim to the French throne. He would then receive a yearly pension thereafter of 50,000 crowns.  Other provisions of the treaty were that if either king experienced a rebellion, the other would provide military support to defeat it.

The details of the negotiations are related by the chronicler Philippe de Commines, who says that Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), was opposed to the treaty, considering it dishonourable. He refused to participate in the negotiations. However, he joined the celebrations in Amiens after it was concluded. Commines also relays a series of sarcastic comments made by the French king about Edward's notorious womanising, as well as his fear of the English because of the events of the Hundred Years' War.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th August 2019.

Stefanos Tsitsipas shouts ~ Aussie Press cries - 'bias in Umpiring' !

Umpires are judges on-field, but their decisions are judged by people off-field and commented upon – now a days, technology does expose some howlers ! ~ and Aussies could complain to have Umpires changed !

The news is - Umpires Joel Wilson and Chris Gaffaney will not be allowed to participate any further in the Ashes.  The first three Tests witnessed numerous umpiring errors. Wilson got eight of his decisions wrong at Edgbaston, while Gaffaney had seven decisions overturned at Headingley.  Veteran Marais Erasmus and rookie Ruchira Palliyaguruge will be the new umpires in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, beginning on September 4, Wednesday. The third umpire in charge will be Kumar Dharmasena.  While Erasmus has also been appointed for the fifth Test at the Oval, Dharmasena and Palliyaguruge will be swapping roles in the same. Umpiring has been a huge talking point this series due to several on-field decisions being overturned by the Decision Review System (DRS).

Away, former Australian Test fast bowler Paul Wilson will stand in his first Test match next month while leading female umpires Claire Polosak and Eloise Sheridan continue to blaze a trail in the sport. Wilson will become Australia's 90th  umpire to reach the pinnacle of the sport for officials and stand in a Test match when he takes the field for the one-off Bangladesh v Afghanistan Test match in Chittagong next week. He's already umpired 28 ODI matches and 11 T20 internationals. He earned a Baggy Green playing one Test for Australia in Kolkata in 1998.

.. ..  media is abuzz of the argument that came midway through the fourth set of Tsitsipas' 6-4 6-7 (5) 7-6 (7) 7-5 loss to Andrey Rublev, a day when he and fellow young star Dominic Thiem both lost in the first round for the second straight major tournament.  Tsitsipas opened his grand slam season by beating Roger Federer en route to the Australian Open semifinals. He fell at Wimbledon to Thomas Fabbiano, who then sent Thiem to another quick exit by beating the No 4 seed 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-2 on a day when four top-10 seeds in the bottom half of the bracket were upset.

The touted bad boy of Tennis Nick Kyrgios  lashed tennis greats and "irrelevant" critics in an explosive precursor to his US Open title tilt in New York. Kyrgios lit up social media after taking offence to The Tennis Channel posting a comment "You never know what to expect when it comes to @NickKyrgios. Will he boom or bust this tournament??"  The remarks accompanied footage of former world No 1s Jim Courier and Martina Navratilova discussing Kyrgios's prospects at the last grand slam of the year. Courier and Navratilova both addressed Kyrgios's conduct, after he was fined US$113,000 this month for his extraordinary meltdown in Cincinnati, where he branded chair umpire Fergus Murphy a " tool" and a "potato".

At Leeds, astonishing Ben Stokes finished with 135 not out from 219 balls, with 11 fours and nine sixes. At one stage he was three not out from 73 balls. When time was running out, he went nuclear. Towards the end  Stokes chopped the ball to backward point and again changed his mind about a single, Lyon fumbled a straightforward chance to run a helpless Leach out at the bowler’s end.  Then, with Australia having just wasted their review for a hopeless LBW appeal against Leach, Lyon trapped a sweeping Stokes in front of the stumps.  It was Umpire Joel Wilson - a new addition to the ICC’s elite panel, who has had a record eight decisions overturned.    The replays clearly showed that a successful review would have ended the contest but Tim Paine had already ruined Aussie’s chance ! ~ Australian press went all out attack against the Umpire and has now ensured that he will not stand further in the Ashes.  Cannot help imagining what when India faced such poor and biased Umpiring in their tours down under.

.. .. getting back to that Stefanos Tsitsipas incident – he  accused a U.S. Open chair umpire of having a bias against him during a tirade in which he told the official, "You're all weirdos!" Tsitsipas told Damien Dumusois that the cause of his bias was "because you're French probably and you're all weirdos!"  Dumusois told Tsitsipas it was time to play, but Tsitsipas was still reaching into his bag for a new headband and screamed at Dumusois that he still needed time to change. Dumusois responded that Tsitsipas would be penalized. "I don't care," Tsitsipas replied. "Do whatever you want, because you're the worst." "I don't know what you have against me," Tsitsipas continued. "Because you're French probably and you're all weirdos! You're all weirdos!"

Dumusois is indeed French. Tsitsipas had been angry that Dumusois believed he was getting coaching during the match from his father, Apostolos, which is not allowed. "The chair umpire was very incorrect in what he was telling me during the match," Tsitsipas said afterward. "I don't know what this chair umpire has in specific against my team, but he's been complaining and telling me that my team talks all of the time when I'm out on the court playing. He's very — I don't know. I believe he's not right, because I never hear anything of what my team says from the outside." Tsitsipas added that he thought tennis needed more umpires who are fair to all players. The two-time French Open runner-up said he was battling an illness leading into the tournament and said he was exhausted after two sets.

Nearly a year ago, the tennis umpire Carlos Ramos and Serena Williams clashed during her loss to Naomi Osaka in the women’s final of the 2018 United States Open. Ramos has yet to work another match involving Williams, and it will not happen at this year’s U.S. Open either. In an interview this week, Stacey Allaster, the chief executive for professional tennis at the United States Tennis Association, confirmed that Ramos would return as part of the umpiring staff at this year’s Open but would not be assigned to matches involving Williams or her older sister Venus. “We don’t need to go there,” Allaster said in a telephone interview. “There are more than 900 matches here over the three weeks, and there are lots of matches for Carlos to do.” Allaster said tournament officials did not want to create a distraction by putting Williams and Ramos back on the same court.

Serena Williams was later fined $17,000 by the U.S. Open. She was penalized by Ramos for verbal abuse after calling him “a liar” and “a thief,” rejecting his judgment that her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, was breaking the rules by communicating with her during the match. Mouratoglou later admitted that he had been sending Williams signals, but Williams has said that she never saw them. She also smashed her racket on the court, incurring an automatic penalty. A coaching violation can be called even if a player does not see the coaching. Ramos also called a coaching violation against Venus Williams for receiving hand signals from her coach at the time, David Witt, during the 2016 French Open.

Opinion remains deeply divided about the way the 2018 U.S. Open final was handled. Although there was criticism of Ramos’s performance from the women’s tour chief Steve Simon, the International Tennis Federation, the sport’s global governing body, offered Ramos its full support.

~ interesting to read so much of bias .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Aug 2019.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

politics of fire in Amazon forests

In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a tribe of warrior women related to the Scythians and Sarmatians.  Over the past week, as fires have sent up enough smoke to darken the skies of São Paulo, the world has rallied concern for the fate of the Amazon. At the G7 summit, leaders pledged support and $20 million to help fight the fires, only to have that amount rejected by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who claims that the Amazon belongs to Brazil and that the country’s “sovereignty” is under threat.

The Amazon rainforest, also known as Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America.  This region includes territory belonging to nine nations. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.  The Amazon rainforest has been on fire for the past month, with Brazil declaring a state of emergency in the region.  The number of fires in Brazil this year is the highest on record since 2013 and is up by 85% from last year alone, CNN reported. So far this year, more than 80,000 fires in the country have been detected by Brazil's space research center, INPE.

There are so many fires burning right now, that smoke is visible from space. European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano captured images of smoke from the International Space Station on Monday. Parmitano said the haze is so widespread, it resembles clouds in some of the photos.  The thousands of fires that  are burning in Brazil, are sending clouds of smoke across the region and pumping alarming quantities of carbon into the world’s atmosphere.   As tongues of flame lapped the planet’s largest tract of rain forest over the past few weeks, it has rightfully inspired the world’s horror. The entire Amazon could be nearing the edge of a desiccating feedback loop, one that could end in catastrophic collapse. This collapse would threaten millions of species, from every branch of the tree of life, each of them—its idiosyncratic splendor, its subjective animal perception of the world—irretrievable once it’s gone. Losing the Amazon, beyond representing a planetary historic tragedy beyond measure, would also make meeting the ambitious climate goals of the Paris Agreement all but impossible.

In the worst-affected Brazilian state of Amazonas, the peak day this month was 700% higher than the average for the same date over the past 15 years. In other states, the amount of ash and other particulates in August has hit the highest level since 2010.  Most of the fires are agricultural, either smallholders burning stubble after harvest, or farmers clearing forest for cropland. Illegal land-grabbers also destroy trees so they can raise the value of the property they seize. But they are manmade and mostly deliberate. Unlike the huge recent blazes in Siberia and Alaska, the Amazon fires are very unlikely to have been caused by lightning.

It is not as if entire forest is on fire !  Satellite monitoring experts say the images of an entire forest ablaze are exaggerated. A great deal of misinformation has been spread by social media, including the use of striking images from previous years’ burning seasons.  Although some reports have claimed the Amazon produces 20% of the world’s oxygen, it is not clear where this figure originated. The true figure is likely to be no more than 6%, according to climate scientists.  There is still of extreme concern.  The fires are mostly illegal and they are degrading the world’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink and most important home for biodiversity. They also contribute to a more important trend, which is an alarming rise in deforestation.

Worser still, the fires raging in the Brazilian Amazon are likely to intensify over the coming weeks, a leading environmental expert has warned, despite government claims the situation had been controlled. On Monday Brazil’s defense minister, Fernando Azevedo e Silva, told reporters: “The situation is not straightforward but it’s under control and already cooling down nicely.” But in an article for Brazil’s O Globo newspaper on Wednesday, one prominent forestry expert warned that the country’s annual burning season had yet to fully play out and called for urgent steps to reduce the potential damage.  So, the apprehension is “the worst of the fire is still to come !” That warning came after more than 400 members of Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, published a damning open letter about the state of environmental protection under Bolsonaro, a right-wing nationalist who took power in January vowing to open up the Amazon to development.

Campaigners accuse Bolsonaro’s administration of hamstringing the very agency that should be fighting illegal deforestation and giving the green-light to environmental criminals with his pro-development rhetoric. On Wednesday Reuters reported that, despite the spike in deforestation, an elite squad of Ibama operatives – called the Grupo Especializado de Fiscalização or Specialized Inspection Group – had not been deployed to the Amazon once in 2019. At a summit of Amazon governors on Tuesday – supposedly convened to discuss responses to the fires – Bolsonaro repeatedly attacked environmentalists and indigenous activists who he claimed were holding back Brazil’s economy.

Before concluding, the  Brazilian government walked back its rejection of $20 million in foreign aid to help fight fires blazing in the Amazon rainforest on Tuesday, saying it would take international aid after all. Acceptance of the funds, however, would hinge on the Brazilian government being able to administrate the aid, clarified presidential spokesperson Otavio Rego Barros. Earlier this week, Brazil escalated its war of words with global powers over the Amazon fires.   Jair Bolsonaro  added that he would only respond to the offer once French President Emmanuel Macron withdrew his insults against him. Macron had accused Bolsonaro of "lying" to him about climate commitments during trade negotiations. The Amazon blazes have caused a public spat between Bolsonaro and Macron, who has been vocal about the need for an international response to the fires.

There is fire and politics too in Amazon – devastating !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th Aug 2019.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Ben's Master St(r)okes leads astonishing win at Leeds

How good is your Cricket memory - Do you remember Apr 3, 2016 ?

This Ashes has already given some very tense moments – including injury to Steve Smith and hit great batting performances after making comeback after ball-tampering ban.  In the third test at Headingley, Leeds – Australia started on top with 1-0 lead.  Josh Hazelwood bowled splendidly to bowl England out for a paltry 67 with figures of 5 for 30 and 4 for 85 in the second. Yet something went wrong !

England touched nadir with 67, was criticized by all and sundry and started its 4th innings gloomily – set  359 to win, England lost wickets regularly throughout an intensely dramatic final day, against an increasingly confident Australia team who would have retained the Ashes with a win here. Home fans had dared to dream at times during a dramatic fourth day. At 156 for three overnight, needing 203 more to win, England had a glimmer of hope, although facing off-spinner Lyon on an increasingly worn pitch was a worrying prospect.  By and large, Cricket pundits applaud Aussie brain for setting up victories, for strategizing opponents out and not leaving anything for the tail-enders.

Matthew Jack Leach of   Taunton, Somerset would remember this match forever.  He scored a solitary run but most importantly remained not out facing 17 deliveries, 60 minutes and was involved in that last wicket partnership of 76.  It is not the highest for X wicket in Cricket history – there are 20 odd scores of 100+.. .. but a once-in-a-lifetime innings from Ben Stokes, who added 76 for the last wicket with Jack Leach, gave England an amazing victory that kept the Ashes alive.

Astonishing Ben   Stokes finished with 135 not out from 219 balls, with 11 fours and nine sixes. At one stage he was three not out from 73 balls. He played with such intelligence, patience and flexibility. And then, when time was running out, he went nuclear. Stokes described Jack Leach as the "super night watchman" but admitted the nerves and pressure started to get to him as the target crept closer.  "We have managed to keep our hopes alive and hopefully take that momentum into Manchester.  Test captain Root described it as an "outrageous batting" performance and said: "To try and sum it up in words is pretty much impossible. "The courage and belief in his own ability is fantastic."

Yes it was courage and belief and it came from no-where zone ! – the scorecard reads :  England 67 (Hazlewood 5-30) and 362 for 9 (Stokes 135*, Root 77, Denly 50) beat Australia 179 (Labuschagne 74, Warner 61, Archer 6-45) and 246 (Labuschagne 80, Stokes 3-56) beat by one wicket   .. .. but scorecard is never going to state the improbabilities.  A day that began full of possibility flipped and flopped and flipped again on the balance of probablility and ended with an air of impossibility as England kept the Ashes alive, thanks to that great knock,  match-winning century and beyond by  Ben Stokes. Stokes' unbeaten 135 handed England the most unlikely of victories, by one wicket, in the third Test at Headingley, allowing them to level the series at 1-1.

The hosts had dared to dream when they resumed on a hot summer's day at 156 for 3 with Joe Root unbeaten on 75 and Stokes locked and loaded having faced 50 balls for his 2 not out.   Australia's attack, while frustrated on the third afternoon, had kept the pressure on and, with the second new ball due after eight overs on day four, England faced a big task just to navigate the morning, let alone chase down the target. That became even more unlikely when Root fell, having added just two runs, to a brilliant slips catch from David Warner - his sixth of the match - off the bowling of Nathan Lyon in the sixth over of the day. Stokes and Jonny Bairstow swung the probability back in England's favour with a defiant, and threatening, 86-run partnership. Their union was broken when Bairstow, on 36, attempted to cut Josh Hazlewood but guided the ball to Marnus Labuschagne at second slip.

Stokes' knock  included 11 fours and eight sixes, led England to their highest successful run chase in Test history after they had been bowled out for 67 in their first innings.  Ben  farmed the strike expertly and England No. 10 Jack Leach deserved huge plaudits for holding his nerve in a 76-run partnership with Stokes off 62 balls, to which Leach contributed 1 off 17. Numerous times Australia threatened to take the final wicket they needed for a victory that had seemed inevitable, only to fluff their lines repeatedly.

Finally,  Leach levelled the scores with a single off Pat Cummins and Stokes brought up the win on the next ball, flaying Cummins through the covers to the boundary, letting  out an almighty roar, arms outstretched as Leach ran to embrace him like the saviour he was.  The fall of wickets portray the story. 1-15 (Rory Burns, 5.6 ov), 2-15 (Jason Roy, 6.3 ov), 3-141 (Joe Denly, 59.3 ov), 4-159 (Joe Root, 77.3 ov), 5-245 (Jonny Bairstow, 99.1 ov), 6-253 (Jos Buttler, 102.2 ov), 7-261 (Chris Woakes, 105.6 ov), 8-286 (Jofra Archer, 114.6 ov), 9-286 (Stuart Broad, 115.2 ov).. .. and 76 runs there after as  Stokes went on the offensive. One Josh Hazlewood over went for 19 before he was swiftly taken out of the attack, with Stokes striking the ball beautifully to all parts of the ground.

Towards the end  Stokes chopped the ball to backward point and again changed his mind about a single, Lyon fumbled a straightforward chance to run a helpless Leach out at the bowler’s end.  Then, with Australia having just wasted their review for a hopeless LBW appeal against Leach, Lyon trapped a sweeping Stokes in front of the stumps.  It was Umpire Joel Wilson - a new addition to the ICC’s elite panel, who has had a record eight decisions overturned.  Only recently at Edgbaston, he was so criticized for poor decisions that some disgruntled element altered his Wikipedia page .. .. the same Wilson was in thick of action – a blunder in not giving Ben Stokes out LBW.  The replays clearly showed that a successful review would have ended the contest but Tim Paine had already ruined Aussie’s chance !

Fittingly, it was left to the masterful Stokes to crunch a four through the off side and confirm England’s heroic, historic success.  Twitter reacted wildly against Joel Wilson and .. .. Stokes wonder after the fall of 9th wicket -  6, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 2, 1, 6, 0, 0, 0, 6, 1, 0, 1, 2, 0, 6, 2, 1, 4, 6, 6, 2, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 4, 4, 1, 0, 0, 6, 0, 0, 0, 4 - 74 runs from 42 balls  .. and in case you still remember Apr 3, 2016 - Set 156 to beat England and win the championship T20 finals  West Indies found themselves needing 19 off the last over, to be bowled by Ben Stokes. Marlon Samuels, who had steered the chase, was on 85. But he was at the wrong end. This was all down to Carlos Brathwaite, the allrounder who emerged on the Test tour of Australia just a few months ago.  Ben Stokes was the bowler – 6,6,6,6 and match over with 2 balls to spare.  The first one was a poor ball from Stokes, down leg, clubbed over deep backward square. Then a length ball slammed down the ground over long-on. Then over long-off. One run needed.  Why bother when you have the power, like Brathwaite, to crunch another six over the leg side. The West Indies players streamed onto the field in jubilation.  Ben Stokes was on the ground, humiliated .. .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th Aug 2019.

spectacles distributed at SYMA 2019 - remembering KE Raghavan

Srinivas Youngmens Association (SYMA) has been doing service to the society  since 1977.  Of our many services, Medical services and Education services are our prime activities.  On Independence Day of the Nation, We have been conducting ‘Cataract screening  Eye camp’ at Sri Seervi Samaj Bhavan, Triplicane  for more than 20 years now.  The camp is always conducted by Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal.  This year on 15.8.2019, National flag was hoisted at our new premises at 37 Car Street, by Dr N Murali.  Mr Badrinath, Vasavi Constructions was the Chief Guest.  Mr J Babu of Pammal Sankara was the prominent Guest.

In the eye camp, around 130 people were screened ~ only 3 were identified requiring removal of cataract.  They were taken to Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal on the same day.  Cataract surgery was done free for them and a day later, they were brought back to Triplicane.  40 persons were prescribed spectacles.  The eye-glasses were made by Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal and they were distributed this morning  at SYMA Medical Centre @ 10.00am.

We have come a long way since 1989 when our medical services were launched in a small street corner at Peyalwar Street ~ many our volunteers have striven so hard ensuring that pleasant and quality service is extended to poor and needy.  Of the many people involved – we recall and remember the passionate services of dear KE Raghavan born on 12.10.1953

Twelve years ago  on this day [fateful Saturday 25.8.2007] the affable Kunnavakkam Elayavalli Raghavan [Alamu Stores] passed away – his sudden death shocked Triplicane and hundreds turned up at his funeral.  He would ever be remembered for his nice words, smiling face, hard work done always at the background without ever showing up on stage.  On a day when Sri Sankaracharya was to visit our medical centre in its nascent stage, he took upon himself, the task of whitewashing the entire premises and the day beckoned with the place so neat and clean.  He was exceptionally good in cooking and the sambar that he used to make still lingers.  In SYMA tours, besides other manual work, cooking and serving was his area and he made everyone feel happy with that.

Every year we remember him on 25th of August –  this morning in his remembrance, eye glasses were distributed at SYMA’s new premises @ Car Street, Triplicane.  The edifice of SYMA has been built brick by brick by the efforts of many volunteers  and late KE Raghavan played a great part in maintaining the Centre those days. His brother Mr KE Srinivasan, Prop. Alamu Stores, distributed the glasses alongwith SYMA Office bearers.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar          

25th Aug 2019.